Sail repair in the Bahamas

November 8, 2023
Team Coboaters

Sail Repair in the Bahamas

This story is another true sailing story from our friends and liveaboard couple Kim and Tom.

You can follow their adventures and read their entire journey:

The jib is broken. How to repair a sail in a paradise island?

Our last adventure brought us (crew and skipper) from Rudder Cut Cay to George Town, about a 36 mile run. It was not without drama as we blew up our jib, a massive split from leach to luff, and not on a seam. This is a major breakdown and sailing problem. Can we repair a sail by ourselves or how can we get the sail fixed by someone else? We still have two months to go on this trip through the Bahamas, and there is not a sail loft down the road we can take it to to get it fixed. ? If we could not repair this sail, we are a motorcat and not a sailboat anymore for the rest of our trip. We also had two guests flying in within the next two days so we were feeling a ton of pressure to get things sorted out.

George Town: Good for fun but not so good to fix a sail

Luckily it happened on our way to George Town, probably with the largest population of cruisers, crew and boat owners in the Bahamas and a very active cruisers network. There is a surprising number of sailors and mariners who winter here. The social activities available, all put together by the residents boaters is amazing. There is yoga in the morning, volleyball most of the day, organized and impromptu hikes to the monument on Stocking Island and other places, a art trail, snorkeling on the ocean side, and so much more.

The rally point is the Chat and Chill beach on Stocking Island. Chat and Chill is a beach tiki bar with a large beach and many picnic tables, and a place for kids to play and mingle. There is something here for everyone unless you are trying really hard to not have fun or really want to be alone. 

However there is no sail loft, so we had to find a solution on our own to get the sail fixed and repaired as soon as possible

A great place to provision only!

G Town is also a place to provision before crew members jump off to places east or to the Far Bahamas. There is an airport, so people are always coming and going. Overall, it is an easy place to like and hang for a while. It is a great place to extend your sailing network.

We pulled in at Kidd’s Cove, just outside the settlement and across the harbor from Stocking for two reasons.

  • The first being the number of boats we passed in the harbor off of Stocking. We found out later there were about 325 boats in the harbor, an exceptionally high number from the normal average of 200. There were a series weather systems on their way which was a major contributor.
  • The second reason was naive because we figured there might be some services to help us with our sail problem. We discovered three things. Very few businesses are open on a Sunday, like only the grocery for a few hours and maybe one restaurant. Everything else is closed. The Georgetown settlement is not a city, so there just are not a lot of services available. A sailmaker or a sail repair shop is certainly not one of them. We were stuck!

No sailmaker? now what?

After we did our exploratory search and had wonderful meal at EYC Restaurant, we went back to our sailboat for the evening. The next morning we tuned in to the sailing network to hear what it was about. We were amazed. There were greetings to all new arrivals who identified themselves, good byes to those who were leaving, weather report, a wants and needs, a services available, events for the day, and a trading net. Over our times here we would participate in each of these topics, many more than once. We met a lot of good people, sailors from everywhere, young and older crew.

A good neighbor offered a solution to repair our sail

About this time a new neighbor, Paul from s/v Grit, a Canadian on a large 50 feet cat dinghied over to introduce himself. He had been here for about a month so was a wealth of knowledge for us.

We explained our sail repair problem and he offered a great solution. He offered to let us use his SailRite sewing machine. We jumped at the invitation and off I went with him to pick it up from his boat. He also had the wide sail tape we needed (lesson learned, I need to have a large roll of wide sail tape in my inventory to fix sails wherever I need) to create the new seam we had from the tear.

Broken sail on the boat. it shows sail repair is needed
The headsail is broken!
Catamaran Grit. The neighbor of Moho. Blue water and a small island at the back
Our neighbor wo helped for the sail repair
Broken sail on a basket ball field
The broken headsail.
Kim is walking on the broken sail to be repaired
Kim is walking on the broken sail before the repair.
Temporary sail repair with a tape . sail is flat on the ground
Temporary sail repair.

Repairing a sail on a basketball field!

He suggested we use the local basketball court to lay the sail out to do our assessment, prep and taping prior to sewing the tape and sail together. After he left Kim and I packed our broken sail into the dinghy and off we went to find the basketball court. We carry a big cart with us for grocery shopping and although skeptical when I first got it (thank you Tonya!) it has turned out to be an essential cruising tool. The sail was loaded in the cart, it is heavy, onto the cart and we went to find the basketball court.

Is a tape good enough for a sail repair?

It was easier to laid the sail out and assessed the tear. !t was ugly, and set out to cut away all the frayed material. About this time a couple happened by and stopped to see what we were doing, Norm and Terry from sailing vessel Crazy Love. As it turned out, Norm was one of the founders of Quantum Sails, so his advice was well worth listening to. He suggested that tape was not enough to repair the sail efficiently, especially along the high-stress areas from the leach to about four feet toward the luff. So not having any spare sail material aboard (another key piece of kit to add to my inventory) we needed to put it out to the next day’s cruiser net.

Temporary repair done. Let’s explore the Bahamas

Meanwhile, we got our trimming and sail taping done and spent the rest of the day checking out the area. We did not rent a car, we did not have the time, like a full day or two to explore which would have been fun, so we hiked several miles to a restaurant further north at Fish Fry Village on Tropical Point. This area is a place where locals go, so it was fun to go there. If you have the time, renting a car for a day or two will give you a much better appreciation for the area. There is a lot to see, it is a large island.

The big sew: the solution to fix this headsail!

The next morning we were up and ready for the 8am cruiser net/sailing network. Much to our surprise more than one cruiser had material. The gentleman we connected with did not want anything for it. I tried to bring him a case of Kalic (beer) when I returned the material we did not use.

Having everything we now needed, Kim went to town rebuilding our gravely wounded headsail. She spent the next two days putting up with my worthless suggestions and sewing like the queen she is. This was a big job, and having only limited space as we had to do it in the cockpit, she was masterful in the rebuild. Another constant annoyance was we never got the tension right or because of sewing through the sticky sail tape caused the thread to constantly break every several feet. This slowed us down a lot, but eventually Kim got it done and we bent the sail back onto the forestay and could only hope for the best. Spoiler alert! it is still holding together.

Kim is sewing the sail
Kim is sewing the sail.
Kim sewing the headsail to repair the sail damage with a big sewing machine on board of a catamaran.
On-going sail repair

Success! The headsail is repaired! Back in business

Both of our guests arrived during the Big Sew. However due to Kim’s masterful sewing we did not lose a day. Our plan was to spend the next week exploring the Exumas and sail back to George Town so they could fly back home.

We would never though we could repair a headsail in a paradise island. We did it!

Sailing woman Kim resting on board a catamaran
Good job Kim!
November 8, 2023
Team Coboaters

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